Name and Place for July 22 (’14)
David Wells has spent the last few decades analyzing American culture, especially within American Evangelicalism (whatever that word means). While we may normally roll our eyes at yet another schmo telling us about ourselves, Wells is different. He’s English, which would automatically make him the bad guy (like most movies). But once you read his works (listed at the end of this post), you realize he is most certainly on the Lord’s side. The following quote is from his new book, God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy Love of God Reorients Our World.
In today’s quote, Wells has begun a sustained argument that knowing God fuels continual desire to know him. The source for this knowledge, Wells contends (rightly, we think), is written Scripture. Here he cautions against an all-too common problem among Evangelicals: our claim of the sufficiency of Scripture while we embrace cultural concepts impeding our ability to know Scripture sufficiently.
The answer, of course, is that Scripture is indeed sufficient. However, there is a proviso here. Scripture will prove sufficient if we are able to receive from it all that God has put into it. That, though, is not as simple as it sounds. The reason lies in what Paul says elsewhere. We are to “be transformed by the renewal” of our minds—which is surely what happens when we take hold of the truth God has given us in his Word—but also, he says, we are not to be “conformed to this world” (Rom 12:2). The shaping of life is to come from Scripture and not from culture. We are to be those in whom truth is the internal driver and worldly horizons and habits are not. It is always sola Scriptura and it should never be sola cultura, as Os Guinness puts it. This is a two-sided practice: “Yes” to biblical truth and “No” to cultural norms if they damage our walk with God and rob us of what he has for us in his Word. Being transformed also means being unconformed.
“Being transformed also means being unconformed.” We see Christians skip church while on vacation, whenever Fall football rolls around, or when sports tournaments for children compete not with our other hobbies, but with our worship of God. How can we come to know God more, trust in Scripture more for that purpose, and love one another more when the source of such growth and maturity is Sunday morning when we gather to hear from God in his Scriptures, yet we are absent?
Thank you, Wells, for reminding us again of our necessary starting place.
Wells is worth reading. He completed a four-volume multi-decade work on the evangelical church. It is a brilliant read from a man who desires more to build up the church than to see her torn down, and these books are worth the time it takes to read them.
Companion volume to the above: The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-Lovers, Marketeers, and Emergents in a Postmodern World